Iranian Christian released after four years in prison
After four years in prison, Iranian Christian Maryam Naghash Zargaran was released from Tehran’s Evin prison on 1 August.
She was due to be released four days earlier, but this was delayed without explanation.
Arrested For Her Faith
Maryam, 39 years old, is a Christian who converted from Islam. She was first questioned by intelligence officers in January 2010 because of her work with underground churches, or “house churches.”
Image: Maryam Naghash Zargaran before her imprisonment
In January 2013, she was arrested along with pastor Saeed Abedini in connection with their work at an orphanage. Both were sentenced a few months later. Abedini was released in January 2016.
Denied Medical Help In Prison
While in prison, Maryam was harassed and repeatedly denied medical treatment. To protest against this, she undertook a number of hunger strikes.
She was allowed to leave prison temporarily to receive treatment, but forced to return before it could be completed. She then had her sentence extended by six weeks to make up for the time she had spent outside prison.
Maryam underwent heart surgery ten years ago and needs regular medical check-ups. She has also been diagnosed with lumbar disc disease, arthritis and osteoporosis. Stressful conditions in prison have exacerbated her heart condition, reported to be Atrial Septal Defect (also known as a “hole in the heart”).
Last year her family said that prison conditions had traumatised her and left her suffering with depression. Amnesty International referenced her case when it accused Iran of “cruel” denial of medical care in its prisons.
Advocacy group Article 18 stated her “unjust detention despite severe health issues is clear evidence of Iran’s lack of respect for religious freedom.”
A Dozen More Arrests
In the past few months, a dozen Christians – mainly converts from Islam – have been sentenced to lengthy prison terms of ten years or more.
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